Sunday, June 15, 2008

Natural Ways to Prevent Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a progressive condition characterized by decreased bone density. As the bones lose their mineralization, they become porous. The weakened bones can cause pain, deformation of the skeletal system, and susceptibility to fracture. Osteoporosis can lead to other conditions caused by a lack of minerals normally supplied by the bones.

Osteoporosis affects one in six women and one in eight men over the age of fifty. It is most commonly seen in post-menopausal women. A person's peak bone mass is reached in his or her 20s or 30s. At this age, bones are at their strongest and most dense. Bones are continually being rebuilt, but after this age the body absorbs more minerals from bone than are being replaced. The strategies for avoiding osteoporosis focus on making certain the diet contains sufficient minerals, so that the body won't need to draw on the reserves kept in bones. Another aspect of prevention is to keep stimulating the bones to remineralize themselves.

What Are Osteoporosis Risk Factors?

The more risk factors you have, the greater your tendency to develop osteoporosis. Even if you have many of the risk factors, there are steps you can take to strengthen your bones and minimize loss.

  • Female
  • Age 50 or older
  • Past menopause
  • History of hormonal imbalances
  • Use of certain medications, such as steroids
  • Insufficient calcium in the diet
  • Insufficient vitamin D, either from the diet or processing of sunlight
  • Lack of exercise
  • Very thin
  • 'Small-boned' body frame
  • Caucasian
  • History of fracture
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Smoking
  • Caffeine consumption (e.g., coffee, colas)
  • Alcohol consumption

    Prevention of Osteoporosis

    The best weapons against development of osteoporosis are a healthy diet and exercise:

    • Exercise

      Weight-bearing exercise induces the bones to rebuild. Examples of weight-bearing excersises include walking, running, dancing, and weight training. Exercises that rely on the body's own natural resistance also help strengthen bones, such as yoga and tai chi. In general, strong muscles require stong bones. Another advantage of exercise is that it helps to promote balance and coordination, which reduces the risk of falling.

    • Calcium

      The body uses calcium in bones for many of its processes, so it's important to make certain that reserves are available. The recommended intake of calcium ranges from1000-1500 mg per day, depending on age, sex, and other factors. Foods that contain calcium include dairy products, such as yogurt; green vegetables; soy products; seafood such as salmon; and sesame seeds.

    • Vitamin D

      Vitamin D is also important for building bone mass, as it aids in the absorption of calcium. Vitamin D is produced within our skin upon exposure to sunlight and it is also found in foods such as egg yolks, liver, ocean fish, and fortified milk. Daily intake should be approximately 400-800 IU per day, although the amount varies according to sun exposure.

    • Vitamin K

      Vitamin K is also important for healthy bones. Vitamin K is found in green, leafy vegetables (e.g., broccoli, collards, brussels sprouts, spinach). Vitamin K plays an important role in blood coagulation, so persons taking blood thinners should check with their physician before attempting to increase vitamin K levels.

    • Avoiding Risk-Increasing Substances

      You can help to reduce your risk for osteoporosis by avoiding substances that interfere with calcium absorption or demineralize bones directly. Use of carbonated soft drinks, caffeinated beverages, and alcohol all may increase the risk of osteoporosis. Smoking also increases the risk of osteoporosis.

    Additional Reading:

  • 1 comment:

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